Move over, Tatooine: Planet discovered orbiting three suns

(CNN)Astronomers have discovered a planet with three suns, where an observer would experience either constant daylight or triple sunrises and sunsets depending on the seasons, which last longer than a human lifetime.

The planet, HD 131399Ab, is the first discovered in a stable orbit in a triple-star system; previously, it had been assumed that the unstable gravity would result in any planet being quickly flung out.



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    The planet — reminiscent of Luke Skywalker’s twin-starred homeworld of Tatooine in “Star Wars” — is located in the Centaurus constellation, about 320 light-years from Earth.
    It was found using the SPHERE instrument on the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope, which is sensitive to infrared light, allowing it to detect the heat signatures of young planets.

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    About 16 million years old, HD 131399Ab is one of the youngest exoplanets discovered to date, the observatory said in a statement.
    By comparison, Earth is about 4.5 billion years old.
    With an average temperature of about 580 degrees Celsius (1,076 degrees Fahrenheit) and an estimated mass of four Jupiters, it is also one of the coldest and smallest directly imaged exoplanets.
    “HD 131399Ab is one of the few exoplanets that have been directly imaged, and it’s the first one in such an interesting dynamical configuration,” Apai said.

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